Had a chat with the old therapist this morning on the phone- the one that counseled Dan and I since we were dating.
I was telling him about how utterly painful it is to imagine Audrey not remembering Dan- the actual memories. I was telling him how I told her to “try to remember” and how it breaks my heart to think of her forgetting. Even if she has a memorial book of one thousand letters that tell the story of her father, it will not even come close to one memory- just one memory of what it was like to be with him- to be held by him, or to laugh with him, or hear him singing to her.
Sarah, my new widow friend with three children who’s a few years into this whole thing- tells me that what she will remember will become a conglomerate of the things I’ve told her, photos and videos, and maybe a drop of her own remembrances in there as well- but…I’ll never really know if she has the genuine memory or one that I’ve passed down. This was OK- she said memories are memories. I hope I can reach that place at some point, because right now- it is an unbearable thought- this mixture of passed down memories that take the place of real ones.
“It kills me,” I told my therapist today. “It just kills me.”
“Julia, maybe it’s because at some point you also will start to forget.”
He proceeded to tell me how there are going to be things I come up against that I will not be prepared for and this is one of them- how I myself will forget. “You’ll still love him and he’ll always be a huge part of your lives, but…” he went on.
I sat frozen. I stared at the picture of you Dan that I have resting against your computer monitor, the one of you looking at Audrey at her first birthday- the one they blew up and used to place above your casket and later in the rear window of the hearse, and then a final time, at the base of your grave by all of the white roses we left there.
“Where are you?” my therapist asks because he has finished speaking and I’ve given no response.
“That’s just really hard to hear,” I answer- but really I’m angry at even the suggestion so early in my grief.
Afterwards I chat online with Sarah and tell her what he said. She tells me that you do forget some things, just as you would’ve when he was alive. But also that she lost her grandfather, whom she was very close to, at age 12 and still has many memories. She also says what I know is true: that we are so afraid to forget because we know there aren’t going to be any future memories made or experiences had.
I tell her that I’ve been having more pragmatic thoughts about how this is my life- and how for the first time since this happened, I can see our journey separating from one to two.
“I hate how healthy it feels too- how pragmatic and true- and yet how wrong it feels to leave him there, in the past.”
She tells me every time I feel I’ve taken a step forward, I will take another one back. I know this is true. I haven’t even left my apartment yet.
And I will not, and I cannot leave you there in the past Dan. But it feels like in the same way that I could not hold you back in life- from pursuing your dreams- I can not hold you back now. For oh my dear, it is you that are leaving me again, and I have no choice in the matter.
You never paid much attention to song lyrics when I first met you- you just didn’t need to know necessarily what the song was about to get it, to be moved by it. I hope this is true of our story-that if the memories we shared, the scent on your shirts, the sound of your voice saying my name- are all taken from me- that I can get this song without the words- that in the invisible, wordless, intangible, I will be moved.